The History of Scratch Cards

by Tim | Mar 09, 2023

The History of Scratch Cards

For many gamblers, instant-win scratch cards have been a great way to enjoy a quick game that’s fun, affordable, and offers players a chance to win reasonable prizes. But what do you know about the history of this simple, yet exciting way to gamble? Join us as we unpack exactly what scratch cards are and then take you through a journey, from their origins all the way to the introduction of online scratch cards.

What are scratch cards?

Just like playing online roulette, a scratch card is a quick and easy way for people to gamble. These are physical or digital cards that come in a myriad of designs. Still, all follow the same essential format: a card with hidden symbols or numbers, which can be revealed by scratching the card’s surface to discover if you’ve won a prize! 

In their physical form, these cards usually have a wax-like substance on the surface that you can remove with a hard object, such as a coin or a key, to reveal the hidden symbols or numbers. In their digital form, players can use a mouse or touchpad on a computer or their finger on a device with a touchscreen, to rub away the layer that covers the concealed symbols. Depending on the online scratch card that you’ve purchased, different prizes can be won depending on the combination of symbols that you get.

The origins of scratch cards

While one may think that a clever idea like scratch cards has been around for at least as long as slot machines, they’re actually a relatively new way to gamble and were only invented in the mid-20th century. The original cards were manually designed, with companies investing large amounts of time and money in ensuring that the cards offered reasonable and fair odds. However, all of this changed in 1972. 

In the Mental Floss article “A Revealing History of Lotto Scratch-Offs,” writer Jake Rossen tells the story of how scientist John Koza completed his PhD only to be fired from his part-time job at a company that produced scratch cards. These cards were part of weekly lottery draws and had yet to become the instant-win games they are today.

As you may have guessed, the idea of turning scratch cards into games in which the player instantly knew the results of the game fascinated Koza, and he believed lotto players would also find it intriguing. However, he knew he would need help developing the cards and convincing lottery officials to give his idea a chance. Dan Bower, a former coworker, saw the potential in Koza’s idea and helped him to start up Scientific Games Corporation. 

They got to work developing their game and convinced the head of the lotto commission in Massachusetts, William Perrault, to give their game of chance a chance. After Perrault ordered 25 million cards, the two had numerous other challenges to overcome. They managed to figure out solutions to these problems and within seven days of going on sale, their game had almost tripled the amount earned by other lottery-style tickets.

Across the US, scratch cards would go on to become a popular way to gamble, in the process, making the founders of Scientific Games Corporation very, very rich. The scratch cards national lottery became a big hit with players.

Other competitors have since adopted the idea, but there’s absolutely no doubt that credit for the original concept goes to Koza, who revolutionised the way people gamble. National lottery scratch cards online would become a popular choice with those who enjoy games of chance.

However, that wasn’t the end of the story for scratch cards. While these instant-win cards were undoubtedly a popular gambling game, a new technological development would forever change the way people gamble. 

Scratch cards go online

An illustration of computers connected to the internet.

The internet may be a part of everyday life and gambling today, but there was a time when you couldn’t just sit at your computer or pull out your phone to enjoy a quick dance with Lady Luck. In the early 1990s, you actually had to go to a casino, sportsbook, or another gambling venue to play your favourite gambling games. 

Thankfully it didn’t take long for gambling entrepreneurs to realise the potential of the internet after it became publicly accessible in 1994. Online casinos and poker sites appeared a couple of years later, providing gamblers with many of their favourite games when they played at a casino online. 

With regards to online scratch cards, no one knows for sure exactly when they made the leap into cyberspace. Still, these virtual scratch cards offered a virtually identical gaming experience to their physical counterparts. Players could swipe away at a card using a mouse, touchpad, or finger to find out whether they’d won a prize, either by collecting enough symbols or matching numbers. 

Regardless of when they appeared online, digital scratch cards have since become a popular way to gamble, particularly if you have a very limited bankroll and just a few minutes to play. The online version of the game has several other benefits as well, including a greater range of prices to suit all budgets, larger prizes, even faster payouts, and of course, increased accessibility thanks to the ability to play from anywhere (as long as you are connected to the internet). Buying scratch cards online provided people with the necessary opportunity to get their hands on a jackpot. 

Try out great scratch card games at The Phone Casino

With this informative journey into the history of scratchcards complete, it’s time to try your luck at being a scratch card winner! If you’re looking for some of the best scratch cards to win on in the UK, you can’t go wrong with The Phone Casino.  We have dozens of titles with fun and exciting themes and equally fun and exciting prizes! However, if the mood strikes to try something a little different, we also offer online slots, live blackjack, live dealer games, video poker and much more. 

This great library of games makes us one of the best mobile casinos you can find online. Register to enjoy everything on offer at the best online and mobile casino in town!

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